By Donna Kardos Yesalavich NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks wavered Tuesday as investors continued to trade cautiously following last week's rally, but deal activity in the energy sector and a pick-up in small-business activity provided a boost. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) slipped 14 points, or 0.1%, to 11393. Weighing on the measure, Chevron (CVX) fell 0.9% after the energy giant agreed to pay $3.2 billion in cash and assume $1.1 billion in debt to purchase Atlas Energy. Atlas shareholders will receive $38.25 a share in cash, a premium of 21% over its Monday closing price. Shares of Atlas, which is not a Dow component, surged 36%. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) climbed 0.1% to 2582. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPX) fell less than a point to 1223, with its financial sector leading to the downside while its energy and materials sectors rose. The Chevron deal boosted energy stocks while gains in gold lifted metals companies including Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), which climbed 2.8%. The euro edged up to $1.3918 after a Greek Treasury-bill auction passed reasonably well, helping ease worries over the financial health of peripheral debtor nations in the euro zone. Greece's auction of 300 million in 26-week Treasury bills was taken as a sign that investor demand remains relatively strong, as its bid-to-cover ratio climbed. Also providing encouragement, small-business activity in the U.S. picked up in October and job creation turned positive, according to the the National Federation of Independent Business. Its Small Business Optimism Index rose 2.7 points to 91.7 last month, although the NFIB noted "this is still a recession level reading based on index values since 1973." The NFIB report also called the Federal Reserve's further quantitative easing action to be "a highly doubtful policy course," adding to a chorus of criticisms over the central bank's pledge to inject the U.S. economy with $600 billion of stimulus. Global controversy has been mounting over the Fed's plans, with President Barack Obama defending the move while China, Russia and the euro zone have come out against it. The debate is heating up ahead of a G-20 summit that begins Wednesday night in Seoul, which is shaping up as a showdown between exporting powers, such as Germany and China, and nations such as the U.S. that are struggling to emerge from recession and high unemployment. Ahead of the meeting, tensions have flared in particular between German and U.S. officials. Gold futures continued to trade at record highs Tuesday above $1400 an ounce, boosted by the prospect of the Fed flooding the financial system with money. Investors often buy the precious metal as protection against inflation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), tracking the U.S. currency against a basket of six others, slipped 0.3%. Treasurys rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year note (UST10Y) down to 2.55%. Crude-oil futures climbed above $87 a barrel. Among stocks in focus, Ambac Financial Group (ABK) plunged 56% to 23 cents. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the Internal Revenue Service questioned the accounting that allowed the bond insurer to receive more than $700 million in tax refunds. Ambac had already been warning investors that it cold face bankruptcy when the IRS contacted the company in late October. Priceline (PCLN) jumped 8.2%. The online travel agency's third-quarter profit excluding items topped the company's August forecast, and it projected fourth-quarter earnings and revenue growth ahead of Wall Street's estimates. Dean Foods (DF) tumbled 15%. The food-and-beverage company' posted a 51% drop in third-quarter earnings, falling short of analysts' estimates, as its dairy operations--the company's biggest unit--struggled. Dean Foods also forecast fourth-quarter earnings below consensus expectations, and the company said its chief financial officer, Jack Callahan, was resigning and taking a CFO job at a publicly traded company it didn't name.